Clearing the Closet of Accumulated Idols

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“Hi, my name is Sarah, I have a new life in Christ, and I am recovering from idolatry.”

Honestly, that’s a sentence I never thought I would utter. In my mind, idolatry was one of those things people in the Old Testament struggled withnot me, not a Christian living in 2018. Idolatry was when they made a golden calf and worshiped it or made something out of wood and called it a god.

But I’ve been learning that idolatry is more than just an external form of worship: it’s a heart posture.

Simply put, idolatry is the practice of putting something or someone in the place that only God should fill. For me, typically three things take the place that God should fill: myself, religion, and others.

Idol of Self

I have been the main idol of my life for the majority of my life. This all happened without me really even realizing it. Almost every decision I made was dictated by what I wanted. I made some decisions out of deference to others or because I knew it was the right thing to do but, on the whole, many of my decisions were purely self-motivated.

For years, I served and served and served some more at my church, not because it was what God told me to do but because I wanted to achieve. I wanted to be the one everyone needed, I wanted to find my importance in serving, and I wanted to remain a workaholic even though I knew it was unhealthy. My serving, though it looked like I was selfless and a wonderful servant, was all about myself.

Self-preservation is another way I serve the idol of self. I isolate and insulate from others because that’s easier for me to do than actually spending time and risking getting hurt. My main motivation for much of my life was self-protection and undoing those toxic thoughts and unhealthy patterns now is taking a great deal of time and effort. But I’m thankful for having my eyes opened so I can see my blind spots and those areas that need to be changed.

To learn more about self-focus, read Free of Me by Sharon Hodde Miller.

Idol of Religion

I’m really good at playing the religious game. Over the years, I learned how one is to act in the Christian bubble and I did my part well. I learned when to say “amen” in the sermon, the times to lift my hands, and all the Bible stories taught during Sunday school. Religion was helpful for me because it allowed me to look good on the outside while I was withering away on the inside.

Honestly, I like the idea of religion because it jives pretty well with my personality: if I can work to earn my friendship with God, I can have some control, something that I quite like. But that’s not at all how it works.

As cliche as the saying has become, Christianity isn’t a dogma, the Church isn’t a religious institution, it’s a relationship. This is difficult for me because it’s not based on my work ethic or my performance but it’s entirely based on God’s love and passionate pursuit of me. This forces me to see myself in a different light and accept the fact that I am worth loving. I am worthy of pursuit. I am more than the sum of my accomplishments or failures or fears.

Relationship with Christ focuses more on what God has done for me than what I can do for him, something that I’m constantly having to remind myself.

To learn more about relationship instead of religion, read Follow the Cloud by John Stickl.

Idol of Others

I’m not what you would call a “people person”. I don’t get my energy from most people, I don’t like crowds, and a lot of the time I’m willing to go against the grain. It’s rare that I’ll bow to peer pressure, and yet, I still find myself worshiping the idol of others.

The truth is, deep down, I want to be seen as the one with all the answers, I want to at least appear to have everything together, and I want to be the one who can fix every problem that comes my way. I never want to be seen as lacking and I will intentionally answer certain questions with confidence even if I don’t know the answers. I don’t want others to look down on me because I answered incorrectly. “I don’t know” is one of the hardest phrases for me to utter.

And what a silly idol it is! I can’t know everything, I can’t be the end-all-be-all for every person or the solution to every problem. But my desire to appear perfect to others is rooted in the idea that I want to be like God. This idol of others reveals, at its very center, the same pride that god Lucifer kicked out of heaven and led Eve to doubt the words of God.

Though it’s not easy, I’m beginning to say “I don’t know” or defer to others instead of trying to retain the spotlight for myself. I’m learning that my identity doesn’t come from the accolades of others and it comes from the word of God not from me trying to be God. After all, he’s a lot better at being God than I could ever hope to be.

“Hi, my name is Sarah, I have a new life in Christ, and I am recovering from idolatry.”

Idols are easy to accumulate and take some time to get rid of. I’m thankful that God and others are patient with me as I recover from my idolatry problem, allowing God to restore my identity, heal my heart, and replace the lies I’ve come to believe.

Do you have an idolatry problem?

How are you actively clearing out your accumulated idols?

To go Deeper: Read Correlation of Love & Forgiveness, Sober 24 Hours


Disclosure: some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

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